If you’ve owned (and adored) cats long enough, you’ve likely heard rumors that all-white cats are highly susceptible to blindness. The truth, however, is that white cats aren’t any more prone to blindness than any other color of cat. Neither hereditary blindness (handed down from a parent) nor acquired blindness (due to other factors after birth) is higher in white cats.
Knowing that white cats aren’t more susceptible to blindness might leave you curious about this incorrect information and whether being white affects cats in other ways. You can keep reading to learn more about white cats and how their beautiful color can make a difference.
What Causes Blindness in Cats?
We now know that having white fur doesn’t affect whether a cat will be blind or not but there are many different things that can cause blindness in cats. Inherited causes of blindness do occur in cats but medical causes of sight loss are more common. These include trauma and injury to the eyes, high blood pressure, cataracts, neurological problems and glaucoma.
Some of these cause gradual loss of vision like cataracts, while others can cause sudden blindness such as retinal detachment and head trauma.
Regular veterinary check ups will help pick up underlying conditions that may go on to cause blindness if left untreated such as high blood pressure.
Does Their White Color Affect Cats in Other Ways?
While being all white won’t make your cat more prone to blindness, it is a definite factor in deafness. Research has shown that between 17 and 22% of all-white cats are born deaf in at least one ear.1 Interestingly, all-white cats with one blue eye have a 40% chance of being born deaf in at least one ear, and if they have two blue eyes, the risk can increase from 65% to 85%!
What’s even more fascinating is that when an all-white cat has only one blue eye, the ear on the same side of its head will almost always be the deaf ear.
How Rare Is an All-white Cat?
All-white cats make up around 5% of the total number of cats worldwide, making them quite rare. Yes, many cats and breeds have the color white in their coats, but finding one that’s genuinely all-white isn’t easy.
Why Are All-White Cats So Rare?
The white (W) pigment gene is responsible for a white coat color and is different to albinism. Cats carrying this W gene are not always completely white and often have coloured spots on their heads, although these may fade or disappear as they age.
How to Care for a Blind Cat
Caring for a blind cat can be a challenge, but it isn’t difficult. It may take time and patience, but many owners live happy lives with their blind cats by using these tips and tricks.
Don’t Move Things Around
To help your blind cat get around, don’t move the furniture or their water and food bowls. Leave them in the same spot so your cat can find them again easily. In time, you’ll be surprised how well they get around!
Keep Your Blind Cat Indoors
Without their vision, a cat won’t see things coming, like a dog or a speeding car. It’s better to keep them inside and, when you go out, keep them on a leash.
Block Off Dangerous Areas in Your Home
Staircases, toilets, and balconies can cause grave injuries to your cat, so be sure to block them off.
Give Your Cat Noisy Toys
Since your blind cat will rely much more on their nose and ears, give them toys that jingle or rattle and have strong (but pleasant) odors.
Talk to Your Blind Cat Often
Talking lets your cat know where you are and gives them a stronger sense of security and safety. Plus, it’s fun and helps strengthen the bond between you and your kitty.
Put a Bell on Other Pets in Your Home
Even if your dog is a sweetheart, they can still scare your blind cat if they approach too quickly. The same goes for other pets, which you can rectify by putting a bell on their collars to let your cat know they’re coming.
Do All-White Cats Have a Higher Tendency to Be Born Blind?
All-white cats are no more prone to blindness than any other color.
Do Blue Eyes Have a Connection to Cat Blindness?
No, the color of a cat’s eyes doesn’t increase (or decrease) the risk of being born blind.
Does Being All-White Affect Any Other Body Parts of a Cat?
Yes, all-white cats have a higher tendency to be deaf.
Can Blind Cats Be Good Pets?
Yes. Cats adapt remarkably well to vision loss relying on their other senses of hearing and smell and make good pets in a consistent indoor home.
Although it’s a popular rumor, the truth is that all-white cats are no more prone to blindness than any other color of cat. Yes, all-white cats have a higher tendency to be deaf, but that’s a different sensory organ.
Blind cats typically adapt and compensate very well, relying on their sense of hearing and smell to get along. We hope the information provided today has put your fears to rest about your all-white cat losing their vision.
Featured Image Credit: Evannovostro, Shutterstock